Dawson County Court Administration

Court Administration photo Reggie Forrester, Court Administrator

PO Box 1435
Gainesville, GA 30503

Contact:

(770) 532-1895 phone
(770) 532-6235 fax

Contact by email

Office Hours:

Monday - Friday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Court Administration oversees non-judicial matters of the county's trial courts, under the guidance of superior and state court judges. The department supervises non-judicial activities of court-supportive departments and services including: Pre-Trial Release, Substance Abuse Services, Court Services, Interpretive Services, Guardian Ad Litem, Law Library, and Indigent Defense.

Substance Abuse Services

Substance Abuse Services is funded by revenues generated from the Drug, Alcohol, Treatment, and Education (D.A.T.E.) fund. Revenue is generated from fees collected for some drug and alcohol abuse cases filed and by defendants ordered by the courts to undergo drug/alcohol evaluations and drug testing. This program provides alcohol and drug evaluations, drug screens and multiple offenders DUI evaluations. After initial evaluation, if a person is determined to have a substance abuse problem, the individual will select an approved treatment provider. The Substance Abuse Service office schedules the initial appointment for them and the probation officer is notified of the appointment time and location. Substance Abuse Services takes an active role in monitoring treatment for the duration of the process.

Drug/DUI Court

The Dawson County Treatment Court is a unique treatment court in the State of Georgia. This treatment court is a hybrid of both the drug and DUI court systems. Established in 2006 under the guidance of Judge Jason J. Deal, this treatment court has established protocols to help create behavioral change in individuals who meet the clinical criteria of dependence.

The team is comprised of law enforcement, defense and prosecutorial representatives, misdemeanor probation and treatment providers as well as the Judge.

Individuals on the DUI track are sentenced into the Dawson County Treatment Court as a special condition of probation. Their participation is mandatory for approximately ten to twelve months, depending on their progress. A nolle proseque (dismissal of all charges) will not be entered at the completion of this program.

Felony possession and possession with intent charges will be considered for the Drug track. The Drug track will be a voluntary program and the charges will be nolle prosequed at the successful completion of a minimum twenty-four month program.

The intended outcome for this treatment process is to support abstinence, create life skills choices, increase family reunions, employment, and financial responsibility as well as decrease criminal behavior recidivism, substance abuse, and health risks. Currently there are twenty-seven participants enrolled with a moderate growth rate predicted.

Contact the Dawson County Treatment Court coordinator by e-mail or by phone at (706) 265-8425.

Pre-Trial Release

The Pre-Trial Release program has been in operation since November 1998. Since its inception, the number of clients that have been released into the Pre-Trial Release Program has grown exponentially. In November 2000, the Hall County Board of Commissioners approved additional staff position to meet the ever-increasing demands to release defendants from incarceration while awaiting adjudication of their cases. The practical aspects of the Pre-Trial program cannot be overstated. Essentially, while awaiting their case to be heard in court, eligible, carefully screened defendants can be released into the Pre-Trial program. The ultimate success of the Pre-Trial Program depends on adequate staff trained in dealing with probation matters to ensure clients are effectively monitored while awaiting trial or case disposition.

Assessment to Determine Eligibility

Pre-Trial officers conduct assessment interviews of potential clients to determine if they are suitable to be released from incarceration. This assessment is normally conducted at the County Detention Center. If all requirements are met and appropriate authorities agree to release the client from incarceration, a bond order is prepared which cites the conditions of release. The judge to whom the case is assigned then sings bond order. The client reads and signs an agreement to the conditions of the bond, then is released from incarceration.

Levels of Supervision

The client is placed into high, medium, or low levels of supervision. The levels of supervision are based on pre-determined criteria as agreed to by the stakeholders. If a client is placed in the high supervision level, the client is visited at home and/or the place of employment on a weekly basis. Also, the client is required to call-in at least once a week. When a client is placed in medium supervision, the client is required to call-in at least once a week and come into the Pre-Trial office for progress evaluation at least once a month. Finally, when a client is placed in the low level of supervision, the client is required to call-in at least once a week and will come in to the office as required. Pre-Trial staff maintains files on all clients and all contacts are documented and maintained in an active file until the case is closed.

Electronic Monitoring (EM)

As a condition of the bond, some clients will be ordered to participate in the electronic monitoring program. EM is a method of monitoring the whereabouts of clients electronically using ankle bracelets. The bracelet will send an electronic signal if a client enters into a restricted area or violate curfew. For example, if a client is restricted from leaving his/her home from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and he/she leaves their home within that time, the ankle bracelet will signal the EM contractor. Also included in EM is an electronic Breathalyzer that is installed in the client's home. The client is required to submit to a test at pre-determined intervals. The client who is monitored electronically could be required to report to the Pre-Trial office to submit to random drug screens and alcohol/drug assessments as part of their conditions. Office contacts are also scheduled for clients to discuss any non-compliant issues as well as other relevant issues as required.

Indigent Defense

The purpose of Indigent Defense is to serve and supply indigent defendants in pending criminal cases with legal counsel. This is accomplished by the completion of a financial legal affidavit by which indigence is determined. The indigent defense team provides the courts with the results of the interview with the appropriate orders for their signature and the filing of the same. The Indigent defense team serves four Superior Courts. They also collect reimbursement of attorney fees from these defendants if they are not incarcerated.

Interpretive Services

The Courts Interpretive Services Program has been in existence since January 2000. This program's main objective is to provide effective interpretive services by developing training programs to aid in certification of interpreters. The Courts Interpretive Program provides interpretive services for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, Juvenile Court, District Attorney's Office, Indigent Defense Clients and the Domestic Relations Office. The interpretive services needed most frequently are Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Sign Language, Portuguese, German, and Italian.

One of the primary goals for the Interpreters Program is to locate and identify competent and professional interpreters and translators to help fulfill mission requirements; provide training and continuing education for interpreters; provide two qualified interpreters in every court at all times; survey the needs of each court to better meet their needs effectively and efficiently while reducing cost; meet with Judge's and court personnel semi-annually to assess their needs for service. 

Reggie Forrester, Court Administrator

Reggie Forrester is Court Administrator for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit serving Hall and Dawson Counties. From January to March ’06, he worked as interim Operations Manager for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit before his appointment as Court Administrator.

Mr. Forrester has extensive experience in the public sector, having served as Hall County Administrator from 1995 to 1999, Public Safety Director from 1985 to 1995, District Court Administrator from 1982 to 1985, Correctional Institute Warden from 1979 to 1982, and Investigator for the D.A.’s Office from 1976 to 1977.

A graduate of Gainesville College (Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice) and North Georgia College (Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice), Mr. Forrester also earned a Certificate of Public Management in 1987 from UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

He is married to Celeste Bagwell Forrester, with whom he has a daughter and son-in-law, Betsy and Billy Skaggs, and two grandchildren. A licensed private pilot, Mr. Forrester’s interests also include hot-rod and antique cars and Cushman motor scooters.